Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Let there be Range Aids

Now that all of the instructor updates are finished, the Range Aids in the program are able to sign up for classes to assist with.  This will be my step-son Neil’s 3rd season as a Range Aid.  Range Aids make around 8:50 an hour and get paid for 16 hours of work for each 20 hour class.  RA assist with setting up the range, getting the bikes ready, bringing bikes out and putting them up, swapping bikes out during an exercise, etc…  Neil has become quite the pro at changing out broken clutch and brake levels from when the students drop the bikes or have a crash.  It’s great for Neil while he is in school.  He is actively working around 15 minutes per hour.  The rest of the time he can stay in the shade and study (he is in a criminal justice program at our local community college).  Where RA make a big difference is while we are teaching on the range.  In between exercises, a RA can take up the cones from the previous exercise while setting up the cones for the next exercise.  This allows the two instructors to focus on debriefing the riders, breaks, and providing the instructions for the next exercise.  During my first two teaching seasons, I never had a RA and it just meant a little for work, but totally manageable.  RA allow the instructors a little breathing time.  Of the 27 classes that I am teaching this year, Neil will be working with me a RA for 20 of them.  He may assist me with ones during the weekdays depending on which classes that he gets into for summer session.  Of the 36 classes that I taught last year, Neil was my RA for 30 of them.

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That is pretty much the basics of the Range Aids in the program, but doesn’t provide  what prompted this post.  I will have been married to Abigail (Neil’s mom) for 8 years this August and we dated for 2 years before getting married.   Neil turned 20 two weeks ago.   While Neil does make mistakes in life or needs to be prodded to take care of a few things, I have not ever had an arguments with him.  I can really say that he is a great kid with a more than pleasant personality.  Such a contrast to me being a pain to my own step mother who married my father when I was in Jr. High School.  What I get from teaching the classes and having Neil be my RA is time with my step son that most parents never get with their children at this age.  Like any relationship, time spent in common provides the substance that needed to know and enjoy the other person.   In the midst of teaching the program, we can talk, laugh, find out what he is doing while not at home, etc…  I do look forward to the time when he decides to go through the instructor prep program.  Teaching classes with Neil as a peer will only enhance the experience with him.


I have be believe that Neil is just a little more safety conscious than other 20 year old motorcyclists.  Not just because of being with the Motorcycle Rider Program, but because he has seen the effects of even low speed crashes.  In particular, I don’t believe that he will ever were anything short of a full face helmet.  He was right beside me on a nasty crash during the braking evaluation.  The rider over applied the from brake, the bike went to the right and she went to the left.  The primary impact was facial on the rough asphalt parking lot.  The gash between her nose and mouth went all of the though the skin into the mouth.  There were also a few loose teeth but none lost along with scrapes on other parts like the hands and knees.  The rider wasn’t going any faster than 15 mph however the rider made the choice to wear a 3/4 helmet.  Had the rider choose a full face, it would have averted the facial impact altogether.  Half of the other riders in the class suggested that riders in the class should have to wear full face helmets for the class on the class evaluation sheets. 

Side note: The face crash rider already had taken deliver of a brand new HD and was determined to get their licenses.  Even as the rider was taken to the hospital by their spouse, she let us know that she would be back.  About two months later, she stopped by a class that I was teaching at another site.  She gave me a big hug and reported that she had retaken the classes and passed.  She healed up pretty good with a little assistance from a plastic surgeon to minimize the scaring. 

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